Hundreds of spectators and large community of participant families, educators, judges, volunteers and coaches attended
Odd Bots, Robot Warriors and Owldroid are just of a few of the creative team names for competitors who took the stage January 12 at The Hockaday School in Dallas for the 5th annual North Texas FIRST LEGO League Championship Robotics Tournament presented by Lockheed Martin. As the operational partner of FIRST LEGO League for North Texas, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science was proud to have ushered in the final competition of the season with the annual robot design competition.
With 30 percent more teams participating this year than last year, the FLL Championship Robotics Tournament provided a competitive platform where students, ages 9-14, applied teamwork, and their classroom knowledge of science and technology, to complete a project challenge and compete in mini-tasks, or “missions,” using robots that are individually programmed and built (by each team) out of LEGOs. This was the fourth year that the tournament was held at The Hockaday School located at 11600 Welch Rd., Dallas, 75229.
Developed by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) — a nonprofit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology — FIRST LEGO® League teaches real-world problem solving through engineering design and teamwork. In 2008, the Perot Museum became the affiliate and operational partner for the North Texas Region, and coordinates and oversees all FLL events for the North Texas area, including the Championship Robotics Tournament.
“The Perot Museum’s mission is to inspire minds through nature and science,” said Steve Hinkley, vice president of programs, Perot Museum of Nature and Science. “As a former educator, I recognize that children learn best when they overcome challenges through hands-on learning, project design and experimentation. FLL and the Championship Robotics Tournament is a truly educational and fun experience that gives these students the opportunity to view science as a process, rather than merely an end result.”
The Perot Museum works year-round to prepare for the Championship Robotics Tournament – in addition to coordinating, overseeing and executing the six qualifying events leading up to the North Texas tournament – by providing and training 130 volunteers for the tournament, some who serve as judges and referees, assisting with team registration and overseeing and executing event logistics.
Volunteer coaches were coordinated by each team and consisted of teachers and staff from participating schools, parents whose children were involved or those involved in community groups who decided to volunteer their time to help during the entire FLL season, including the Championship Robotics Tournament.
Fifty-four teams of hardworking, imaginative and resourceful students put their critical thinking skills to the test to conquer this year’s project challenge called Senior Solutions. Participants were tasked with solving a problem faced by seniors, 60 years or older, as they age. Teams selected and invited a senior to “partner” with them on the project, identified and researched a problem that may help their senior partner, and created an innovative solution that helped seniors stay independent, engaged and connected.
Teams competed in the robotics portion of the event with the Senior Challenge Game, which consisted of several mini-tasks, or “missions,” for the autonomous robot (individually programmed and built by each team) including wood working, bowling and gardening where the robot must get a broken chair to a table, send balls to knock down pins and add plants to a garden, respectively. Teams scored points based on the number of missions they completed within the two-and-a-half minute competition round, which required participants to apply strategic thinking and planning.
In addition to critical thinking and planning, the high-energy competition combined camaraderie, respect for one another and fun. Teams proudly flaunted creative T-shirts that they designed specifically for the competition, along with playful hats and buttons to reflect their team spirit, while participant families and spectators were on hand throughout the tournament to cheer and support their favored team.
The detailed schedule for the competition included team registration from 7 to 8 a.m. with opening ceremonies from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Robot competition was from 9:15 a.m. to noon, with a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m., and robot competitions resumed at 1 to 3:30 p.m. Elimination rounds were from 3:30 to 4 p.m. with closing ceremonies and awards at 4:30 to 5 p.m.
All participants in the Senior Solutions Challenge received a participatory medal and certificate for their hard work and team commitment. In addition, the following awards were given for specific areas of judging and competition: Champions Award; Inspiration; Teamwork; Gracious Professionalism; Mechanical Design; Programming; Strategy and Innovation; Research; Innovative Solution; Presentation; Robot Performance; Judges’ Award, and Outstanding Volunteer Award.
The winners included:
- Champion’s Award 1st Place: Model Scout Robotics (Plano, TX; no school affiliation)
- Champion’s Award 2nd Place: Technic Eagles (Prince of Peace Christian School; Carrollton, TX)
Photography credit: Jason Janik / Perot Museum